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National History Day Getting Started – Topic Selection and Research Plan.

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1 National History Day Getting Started – Topic Selection and Research Plan

2 Most important choice: your TOPIC It is absolutely necessary to have a topic that: -fits the theme (2010-11: Debate and Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences). -will let you teach your viewers/readers something – avoid extremely familiar topics that most educated adults would already know all about.

3 A strong NHD topic…. -is truly historical, not a recent event (a minimum 20-25 years or more in the past gives you the best chance of doing a project that demonstrates your understanding of cause and effect and historical perspective). -is narrow in scope so you can tell the story, connect to the theme, and include your own analysis and interpretation within the length/time/size limits of your project category (for example, Chiune Sugihara rather than World War II or the Holocaust). -is historically significant – be careful with popular culture topics! You must go beyond a mere cultural influence in realms such as music, dance, film, literature, athletics, etc. and show significant consequences that are political, social, and/or economic in nature.

4 Speaking of historical significance…. “fascinating” or “famous” topics are not necessarily historically significant. To help you decide if a topic is truly historically significant, think about what kinds of information sources are available. -Is the topic something scholars have researched, and have they produced related scholarly academic writing? - If your main sources for a topic would probably come from publications such as People Magazine, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, or online “fan” websites, the topic is not likely to be historically significant.

5 Organization is IMPORTANT! Use a 3-ring binder with dividers, an accordion folder, and/or set up folders on the computer. Organize all information you collect using these subtopics: - historical context - details about the story (event, person, movement, etc.) - connections to theme - consequences/significance of the event, person, movement, etc. Keep a research list to remind yourself of additional resources you want to check into for your topic Do some research on your own every week – don’t depend on class time to get the project done! Start your bibliography on the first day of research! or another web tool will help you format your bib entries COPY each bib entry as soon as you create it and paste it in alphabetical order into your own working bibliography that you will create in Word. Do not depend on saving the bib in the online tool. Remember to separate your bibliography into Primary Sources and Secondary Sources as you go.

6 During Research - Books Note the author and page number of any information you record from a book (and of course, make the complete bibliographic entry – many students find it helpful to make a photocopy of the book cover and title page for future reference) As you record information, paraphrase (in your own words) and summarize If you find a particularly striking quote that you may want to include in your project, write it out word-for-word in your notes Use the book’s table of contents and index to help you skim – you don’t have time to read hundreds of pages Use the book author’s notes and/or bibliography to help you find additional sources – these will be the sources the author drew on to write the book

7 During Research – Online Sources COPY useful information and images and save them using the subtopic system. Be sure to record the URL for the item as well as the date you accessed the material Remember to do your bibliography entry for each source! Use electronic highlighting to identify key information you will use

8 After Preliminary Research Can you: -Write a single paragraph that tells all the most important details about the topic and includes some of your thoughts about the topic’s significance? -Write a second paragraph clearly explaining (with examples and details) the connection to the theme? -Formulate a thesis statement (your main point about how the topic is important and how it relates to the theme, in a single sentence or two)? If you can answer YES to the above questions, you have the start of a strong final project!

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